If you really want to know what's happening, ask someone who's right in the thick of everything. Mount Dora Buzz asked Kim Leinbach, the city's Interim City Manager, to share his valuable insights about Mount Dora's future, challenges and other topics.
MDB: If you had a crystal ball, what changes could residents notice in the next five years?
LEINBACH: I believe Mount Dora residents will see the beginning of renewed growth and development. As the infrastructure matures in the northeast portion of the community, business interests of several types should be expected.
MDB: Next ten years?
LEINBACH: Probably more of the same. I wouldn’t be surprised to see, in addition to the commercial activity, additional residential growth as well.
MDB: What's been the biggest surprise about Mount Dora?
LEINBACH: What Mount Dora has to offer – which is really something for everyone. It is diverse in its attractiveness and appeals to people in all age groups. One might think it largely relies upon its unique downtown or one of many festivals/activities. However, it goes beyond these special attributes to incorporating a variety of shopping, beautiful scenery, peaceful walks and just a great place to live, work and visit.
MDB: What's been the biggest surprise about City Hall?
LEINBACH: Actually, not really much of a surprise – Mount Dora enjoys the hard work and professionalism of a great staff. Employees demonstrate their desire to serve our residents and visitors with courteous and responsive service.
MDB: Providing there are no big delays, when would you expect to see the new bike trail open? LEINBACH: It is still essentially in the design phase at Lake County and a ways away. You could always use the bike courses near the municipal swimming pool, however.
MDB: What are the city's two greatest assets?
LEINBACH: The people of Mount Dora and its multifaceted benefits to living here.
MDB: In your opinion, what are the two biggest challenges facing Mount Dora?
LEINBACH: Managing the anticipated growth for the city and incorporating new citizens (residential as well as commercial) into the rich history, traditions and values that have prevailed over the years.
MDB: Is the city on track preparing to meet those challenges?
LEINBACH: I believe so. In the first regard, Mount Dora is working on a number of infrastructure projects to serve growth areas. In the second, I have participated in a number of meetings and oftentimes I hear of the need to prepare for growth with the goal of incorporating it into the mantra of our community.
MDB: There was a common perception that Mount Dora wasn't business-friendly. What is now being done to change that?
LEINBACH: We've listened to a lot of business owners to receive feedback to help guide us in making necessary changes to improve. We'll continue to get better. Mayor Girone has had a lot of meetings on this issue and we've implemented a customer-friendly approach in the building and permitting areas, as well as city-wide. The philosophy is that our residents aren't customers, they are stockholders that own the company.
MDB: Do you get the support, time and space needed to effectively manage the city?
LEINBACH: Absolutely. Our Mayor and City Council have been very supportive as well as the staff serving our municipality. This is in addition to our residents who have helped me out tremendously.
MDB: New city councils can take a while to get their sea legs. Are things moving productively now?
LEINBACH: I think our City Council is working diligently on the many significant matters facing Mount Dora and developing a team-building spirit while doing so.
MDB: What are your favorite lunch spots?
LEINBACH: I haven’t found one I don’t savor. Mount Dora has outstanding offerings to any palate or appetite.
MDB: What are your favorite things to do in the city after work?
LEINBACH: I like to unwind with long walks, meeting people and bragging about my adopted community.
MDB: As the interim city manager, what words of wisdom would you offer an incoming city manager about Mount Dora and its government?
LEINBACH: Mount Dora is a great place. Certainly, it has its challenges, just like all communities, but offers a rich tradition coupled with a promising future. Work will involve managing growth, keeping finances in line, protecting the heritage of the city, parking (a great problem to have as so many communities I have seen in the past wish they had the problem of too many vehicles) and balancing policies with the matters of administration.